Gaels take aim at keeping senior rugby crown
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – The Guelph CVI Green Gaels will be looking for their second consecutive District 4/10 high school senior boys’ rugby championship title Thursday night when they again clash with the Ross Royals for district honours.
“We’re excited to go back and be back in the final again,” GCVI coach Gary Robinson said. “It should be good and we expect a great game.”
GCVI had won six league titles in the 1990s, but last year’s championship win was only their second since then.
“It’s unbelievable when you think about it,” GCVI captain Aaron Pacha said. “If you look back at GC’s rugby history, we were a rugby school for a long time and then there was a 10-year gap where we hadn’t won a championship and we brought it back last year. It would be nice to keep that tradition of winning at GC.”
Last year, the Gaels won the title for the first time since 2007 when they edged Ross 17-12. GCVI and Ross had both posted 4-0-1 records in regular-season play last year and had tied in their regular-season meeting.
This year, Ross was 4-0-0 in the regular season while the Gaels were 3-1-0, GCVI’s loss being by a 14-12 count to Ross at Ross May 10.
“There are some different key players and these guys have slowly come together,” Robinson said of this year’s GCVI squad. “They’re trending in the right direction and they’re coming together as a group. We’re doing OK right now.”
Tuesday, the Gaels blanked the Erin Raiders 21-0 in one semifinal and Ross crushed Centre Dufferin of Shelburne 50-7 in the other all-Royals semifinal.
Donny Smart scored two tries for GCVI while Lucas Eberhardt scored another and Sam Steinhauser converted all three in their win.
“It was definitely a tough game,” Pacha said. “We knew they were going to come out hard, we knew they had the weapons, but we obviously had the better weapons today.
“Any time we got the ball in our hands, we were crashing, we were using our weapons. As the season’s gone on, we’ve learned to do that and that was definitely the best game we’ve played all year.”
“We were a little bit bigger, but at the same time Erin’s always scrappy and they always keep coming. The pedal’s right down to the end,” Robinson said. “You have to take the opportunities when they come up.”
The Raiders did keep the pressure on throughout the game as they tried to get into the Gaels’ end zone, but GCVI got defensive in the second half to preserve the shutout.
“In the second half, they came up and we sort of settled and got into defence and just tried to control the game that way,” Robinson said.
The Gaels and Ross are to battle in the championship match at Victoria Park in Fergus Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Ross 50 Centre Dufferin 7
Adam Ford had a pair of tries for Ross while Liam Weir, Leo Finoro, Ty Dunk, Carter MacPherson, Jon Howie and Alex Coole each had one. Will Halyer added five conversions.
Centre Dufferin’s scorers weren’t reported.
It’ll be a GCVI-Ross championship doubleheader Thursday in Fergus as the same two schools are to meet in the 5:15 p.m. junior final after both posted one-sided semifinal wins Tuesday.
The Royals enter the final 5-0-0 in D4/10 play (regular season and playoffs) this season while the Gaels are 3-2-0. Ross defeated GCVI 22-5 at home May 10.
Ross 90 Erin 0
The Royals scored 16 tries in the win.
Mitchell Penner led Ross with four tries and three converts while Bradley McLeod had three tries and one convert. Issachar Gerbreyes added a try and a convert while other tries were scored by Keaton Peterson, Adam Best, Emerson Hoppins, Nathan Glenn, Ryan Hodge, Gianmarco Ciaravalla, Noah Sabourin and Ahmed Al-Hayali.
Guelph CVI 42 Centre Dufferin 7
Scoring details were not reported.